Friday, February 8, 2013

'Bout Adventuress, sing shanties (shanties)!

February 7, 2013 - What a great night we had! Folks trickled in, but before you knew it, fifty-six of us shanty enthusiasts were singing 'round the song circle. Wayne Palsson of Northwest Seaport in Seattle led the evening, drawing from his impressive repertoire on maritime songs he has committed to memory over the years. We gathered at the Uptown Community Center in Port Townsend. New songs were introduced and songs were sung from our songbook that some of us have never heard before. 

Wonderful to see new faces among the familiar; members of the Sage Club, a couple from Sequim... we got started with a small band of first-comers, but within a half hour the room was filled with people and the robust sound of singing. I love the camaraderie, the sense of community. Congratulations to Cindi Dinan, who won this month's gift certificate from Courtyard Cafe. Anybody know who that young boy was who belted out the last line of Eddy Stone Light? Thank you to Mark Olson, for teaching us the chorus to "Whale of a Tale" (check the next blog post about the contest to write some of your own lyrics). Mike James, strumming his guitar, serenaded us with the most beautiful love song; it brought tears to me eyes. I don't recall it's name. Thank you for your beautiful song, Jean. And thank you Helen Gilbert for teaching us the words to "Red Rose Cafe".Thank you to those who treated us with sweet treats. What a delightful and eclectic community of shanty enthusiasts!

About a third of the way around the circle, someone requested Paddy Lay Back. This song just happens to be both a forebitter and capstan shanty, which was selected to sing at the Flash Shanty to celebrate the Schooner Adventuress' 100th Birthday. It was our intention to record our group singing Paddy Lay Back as a tribute to the Adventuress 100 year celebration... so we did!  This song is a crowd pleaser, because there's a lot of energy and rhythm as end-words in the chorus lines are repeated back, adding a unique cadence to the song. According to Stan Hugill, this song was "sung by Liverpool seamen engaged in the West Coast Guano Trade." Paddy Lay Back is also known as the "Mainsail Haul", "The Liverpool Song" or "Valparaiso Round the Horn." 

Here is our Sing Shanties Song Circle singing Paddy Lay Back with Wayne Palsson leading out with  a number of the nineteen or more verses that are known of this song (some are not "family-friendly", but there were no children about to cover their ears). At the very end of the video, Wayne is asked about the phrase "heave a pawl".


Happy Birthday, Adventuress!


Paddy Lay Back

Lyrics from Shanties from the Seven Seas, by Stan Hugill


'Twas a cold an' dreary mornin' in December, (December)
An' all of me money it was spent (it was spent),
Where it went to Lord I can't remember (remember),
So down to the shippin' office went, (went, went),

Paddy, lay back (Paddy, lay back)!
Take in yer slack (take in yer slack)!
Take a turn around the capstan - heave a pawl - heave a pawl!
'Bout ship, stations, boys, be handy (be handy)!
Raise tacks, sheets, an' mains'l haul!

Alternative final line of chorus:
For we're bound for Valaparaiser 'round the Horn!

That day there wuz a great demand for sailors (for sailors),
For the Colonies and for 'Frisco and for France (an' for France),
So I shipped aboard a Limey barque the Hotspur (the Hotspur),
An' got paralytic drunk on my advance ('vance, 'vance),

Paddy, lay back (Paddy, lay back)!
Take in yer slack (take in yer slack)!
Take a turn around the capstan-heave a pawl - heave a pawl!
'Bout ship, stations, boys, be handy (be handy)!
Raise tacks, sheets, an' mains'l haul!

Now I joined her on a cold December mornin',
A-frappin' o' me flippers to keep me warm.
With the south cone a-hoisted as a warnin',
To stand by the comin' 0' a storm.

Now some of our fellers had bin drinkin',
An' I meself wuz heavy on the booze;
An' I wuz on me ol' sea-chest a-thinkin'
I'd turn into me bunk an' have a snooze.

I woke up in the mornin' sick an' sore,
An' knew I wuz outward bound again;
When I heard a voice a-bawlin' at the door,
'Lay aft, men, an' answer to yer names!'

'Twas on the quarterdeck where first I saw 'em,
Such an ugly bunch I'd niver seen afore;
For there wuz a bum an' stiff from every quarter,
An' it made me poor ol' heart feel sick an' sore.

There wuz Spaniards an' Dutchmen an' Rooshians,
An' Johnny Crapoos jist acrosst from France;
An' most o' 'em couldn't speak a word o' English,
But answered to the name of 'Month's Advance'.

I wisht I wuz in the 'Jolly Sailor',
Along with Irish Kate a-drinkin' beer;
An' then I thought what jolly chaps were sailors,
An' with me flipper I wiped away a tear.

I knew that in me box I had a bottle,
By the boardin'-master 'twas put there;
An' I wanted something for to wet me throttle,
Somethin' for to drive away dull care.

So down upon me knees I went like thunder,
Put me hand into the bottom o' the box,
An' what wuz me great surprise an' wonder,
Found only a bottle o' medicine for the pox.

I felt that I should skip an' join another,
'Twas plain that I had joined a lousy bitch;
But the chances wuz that I might join a worser,
An' we might git through the voyage without a hitch.

I axed the mate a-which a-watch wuz mine-O,
Sez he, 'I'II soon pick out a-which is which';
An' he blowed me down an' kicked me hard a-stern-O,
Callin' me a lousy, dirty son-o'-a-bitch.

Now we singled up an' got the tugs alongside,
They towed us through the locks an' out to sea;
With half the crew a-pukin' o'er the ship's side,
An' the bloody fun that started sickened me.

Although me poor ol' head wuz all a-jumpin',
We had to loose her rags the followin' morn;
I dreamt the boardin'-master I wuz thumpin',
When I found out he'd sent me around the Horn.

I swore I would become a beachie-comber,
An' niver go to sea no ruddy more;
For niver did I want to be a roamer ,
I'd shanghai the boardin'-master an' stay ashore.

But when we got to bully ol' Vallaparaiser,
In the Bay we dropped our mud hook far from shore;
The ol' Man he refused ter let us raise 'er,
An' he stopped the boardin'-masters comin' aboard.

I quickly made me mind up that I'd jump 'er,
I'd leave the beggar an' git a job ashore;
I swum across the Bay an' went an' left 'er,
An' in the English Bar I found a whore.

But Jimmy the Wop he knew a thing or two, sir,
An' soon he'd shipped me outward bound again;
On a Limey to the Chinchas for guanner, boys,
An' soon was I a-roarin' this refrain.

So there wuz I once more again at sea, boys,
The same ol' ruddy business over again;
Oh, stamp the caps'n round an' make some noise, boys,
An' sing again this dear ol' sweet refrain.

Wayne Palsson, song leader


Jean Geiger

Mike James